AKO Army Knowledge

During the Guadalcanal campaign in late October of 1942, the Japanese were making massive attacks against the Allied-held Henderson Airfield. In addition to the ground offensive, the Japanese were also planning massive naval and air attacks, known as the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, to decisively defeat Allied forces.

The Japanese ground offensive was called off on October 26, 1942, after losing over 2,000 men, while costing the Allies around 80. Despite this failure, the Japanese naval offensive continued, with both sides launching strikes against each other shortly after 9 am. The initial US attack inflicted damage on the Japanese carrier Shokaku and heavy cruiser Chikuma, while the Japanese attack severely damaged the US carrier USS Hornet. The second wave of Japanese attacks targeted and damaged the USS Enterprise, and several smaller ships, although many of the attacking planes were destroyed.

After this wave of attacks the US Navy pulled out of the combat area, as did the Japanese. While the number of sunk ships favored the Japanese (who had three heavily damaged ships, while the US had two ships sunk and two more damaged), the Japanese lost more aircraft and aircrew. However, the US was able to repair their damaged ships easier, and replace those that were lost quicker. The real damage to the Japanese Navy, was the large loss of experienced aircrew.

This loss, combined with the aircrew losses in the Battle of Coral Sea, Battle of Midway, and the Battle of the Eastern Solomons had a devastating effect on future air battles.


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